Midwives in the NHS

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:34 pm on 17th January 2022.

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Photo of Taiwo Owatemi Taiwo Owatemi Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) 10:34 pm, 17th January 2022

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker; I will be very brief. I thank Siobhan Baillie for securing this important debate and wish her well with her pregnancy.

We in Parliament have been talking about the issues that midwives face and their working conditions for quite a while now, and they were discussed just last year in a Health and Social Care Committee report on maternity health. As a member of that Committee, I have two simple points to make.

The first is about NHS staff shortages, which have affected many midwives in this country and which our Committee has been looking at for a while. Our report last year clearly shows the severe staff and resource shortages that have affected the NHS and midwives specifically. According to the Royal College of Midwives, just 4,773 midwives have joined the register since 2019. The number of midwives working for the NHS in England has actually reduced: the full-time equivalent numbers have gone down by 125. The demand for midwives has not decreased, and nor has the supply of registered midwives, but the number of midwives in the NHS has done so. As many hon. Members have said, it is important that the Government do more to ensure that fully certified midwives get the much-needed jobs and fill up the spaces in the NHS.

I will move on to my second point, because I am aware of time. As a result of the lack of resources and staff, midwives are suffering under terrible working conditions. Midwives across the country have stated that they are not getting loo breaks, that they do not have time to eat lunch and that they are working on minimal sleep. That is really concerning, particularly because it can affect patient care. It is common sense that mothers and their babies in my constituency of Coventry North West will suffer if midwives are being overworked and under-resourced. It is vital that the Government do as much as possible to ensure that midwives are not placed in that situation or in impossible working conditions. It is time that we fixed these burdensome circumstances and that the Government provided resources for midwives.

Finally, I thank all the wonderful, hard-working midwives at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust for all the work that they do despite the current working conditions.